There’s been some excitement recently about a clever (and effective) way of turning objects into 3d models from photographs: Autodesk 123d Catch. MakerBot Support’s own Brian Stamile has used it to get some very good results, and has even spawned a project idea (in a tweet): Shopping for fun items to scan at Goodwill. Buy it, scan it, print it on a
#MakerBot, donate it back. That’s the plan. Project Scancycle.
Here’s how it works: take photos of your item on a neutral background. Rotate around the object, snapping a photo every 15 or so degrees, from a few different heights: above, below, from the side. It’ll take about 40-75 photographs for 123d Catch to create a good 3d model. It doesn’t work well with objects that are very shiny. You’ll also want to open the resulting .obj in your favorite 3d modeling program (MeshLab, MeshMixer or Blender, perhaps) to clean it up and export to .stl.
123d Catch is currently a free beta, so try it out now…unfortunately it runs only on Windows at this time. If you want to participate in Project Scancycle, just tag your Thingiverse item with “Scancycle” and/or tweet it with the hashtag #Scancycle.